Wednesday April 12th – Cross the Border into the USA, Scottsdale AZ
Another extended and uneventful day on the bus. There were some wonderful highlight moments on this trip, but the very long bus rides, especially two of them back to back made the culmination of the trip less memorable.
Our drive through the Chihuahua Desert, (the largest in North America), was similar to the Sonoran Desert we traversed on our way south. The ocotillo cactus were blooming with their fiery red heads at the end of long spindly branches.
Sorry that these pictures are not up to pare, being taken from our moving bus.
Lunch in Agua Prieta was not remarkable.
I know Manuel was concerned about our border crossing from Mexico back into the USA. He says it can be anywhere from OK to a complete nightmare. We were hoping for the best.
There were three different checkpoints we had to traverse before actually crossing the border at Douglas. Two were controlled by the heavily armed Mexican military instead of the Mexican police. We were strongly advised that NO PICTURES were allowed to be taken at any check point, especially where men were wielding guns!
By the way, the header picture at the top of the page is of the current wall between our countries.
At the first stop, a lone soldier came on board the bus, (while another heavily armed agent stood beside the coach), and spoke to Manuel a moment. We were described as a group of retirees whom he had just taken to Copper Canyon. After a quick glance at us, he wished us a good day and let us pass.
And our good fortune continued from there with the fruit/food check point. Again, a very quick, “Does anyone have any fresh food items” “No” “OK, thank you”. Of course we had been heavily warned and reminded that any fresh items MUST be consumed before reaching this point to avoid a hefty fine.
When reaching the final check point, we disembarked from the bus with our passports in hand. Formalities leaving Mexico were done quickly and professionally. Passports stamped and we then proceeded the short distance to the American side.
Again passports produced, stamped and we were marshaled to a waiting area where we watched as our bus was inspected.
This part was rather interesting as a vehicle was slowly driven along side the bus – down one side, up the other side. This was a mobile x-ray type system that could detect any hidden compartments where a person, money, drugs or any other illegal substance could be concealed from view.
After one complete scan, this was again repeated.
Then the sniffing dog was taken around the bus, up into the baggage compartments, and eventually two agents with the dog disappeared onto the bus. They inspected for roughly ten minutes before we were given the green light to get back on board and pass on into Arizona.
Miguel said this was the smoothest, quickest crossing he had ever had.
As we progressed north, we passed through Bisbee and Tombstone, where Tim and I had just visited in January. Here are a couple of links in case you are curious to see what we enjoyed in either city, or see the highlights from that trip:
Bisbee – Copper mines, a charming artists community, and a museum linked to the Smithsonian.
Tombstone – Where the shootout at the OK Corral transpired. Definitely take a step back into the Wild Wild West here. The graveyard was a highlight.
Our final destination was Scottsdale, Arizona. Hasty thank you’s and goodbyes were said to our tour leader, driver and fellow travelers. Somehow after the long bus ride, and our farewell dinner the night before, it seemed anti-climatic as we parted ways. We knew there was a chance of seeing a few members the following morning at breakfast before heading out to the airport, but that was a roll of the dice as everyone had different departure times.
Dick, Karen, Tim and I decided to walk a short distance into Old Town Scottsdale in search of a good meal. Dick was drooling for a bone-in rib eye.
I was looking for some Tums to settle my burning stomach.
After asking a couple of people where a pharmacy or convenience store was located, we were pointed in a general direction and took off walking – and walking – and walking.
Still no luck, but we found a restaurant, The Mission, that had excellent reviews, and several people exiting highly recommended it. We put our name on the hour and a half waiting list.
That gave us plenty of time to find those elusive antacids.
About that time, Dick spotted a young woman driving a golf cart down the street. He said he needed some help. Before we knew it he was motioning to us to climb on board her cart and off we went in search of the nearest store that could accommodate my needs.
Well, little did we know that we were in for quite a ride. Block after block passed us, as Stephanie, AKA Juggsie, plummeted us with questions. Dick hinted that a $2 tip would be coming. She smilingly pointed to her sign in front which indicated her pricing: 1-2 people was $10 for a ride, and 3-4 was $15. But, she mentioned that we were her first ride of the evening, so any amount we wanted to give her was fine, but she hinted with a wink and a smile, that she would appreciate a bit more than $2.
Eventually she pulled up in front of a CVS or Walgreen’s or 7/11 or ??? I have no idea by this time. Tim jumps off and proceeds to get me the Tums for much-needed relief.
By this time we were many blocks away from where our dinner was to be. Juggsie had pointed out about 50 bars and hotspots for evening entertainment.
Really??? After 10 hours on a bus, all I wanted was a nice dinner and a comfortable bed…
But, she was very personable, the Old Town looked inviting, and we still had over an hour to wait – SOOOOO, off we went for a “guided tour” on her golf cart. Turns out that there is a lot more to Scottsdale than I realized. Might even want to spend a day or two here at some point in the future.
Eventually, we returned to our point of origin, and Tim gave her $30 for the ride and tour. The ride ended up more memorable than our dinner…
Overnight: Scottsdale and then our flight home.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful that Tums were invented, that a quirky young girl crossed our path at just the right time, and that another fun, interesting, enlightening, and long time dream of a trip was coming to a close.